What looked like a disaster early on for Nelson Piquet Jr. -- a spin on Lap 56 -- turned fortuitous as green flags clicked by to close the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway.
Piquet and crew chief Chris Carrier employed a brilliant -- and race-winning -- strategy to capture the Brazilian's first victory in the Camping World Truck Series. The duo chose to stay out while the front-runners pitted under green, then milked a huge lead that ballooned to more than 15 seconds with seven laps remaining.
Piquet led the first 13 laps, stalked by Kurt Busch throughout the early going. Busch, the 2000 Truck Series rookie of the year, had not started a truck race since June 30, 2001. Busch eventually took the lead on Lap 17.
On Lap 56, Piquet was racing Busch hard coming out of a restart. The two trucks tapped coming out of Turn 2, with Piquet the victim -- or so it seemed at the time.
The 27-year-old Brazilian won the race wearing a replica helmet of his father, three time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, who this weekend celebrated his 60th birthday.
Nelson Piquet Jr: “We’ve been fighting for this win since the beginning of last year and we finally made it! The whole race was fun and it wasn’t as boring as it seemed at the end when we had a big lead. It’s a weight off my shoulders to get the victory. I live to win races and this is only the beginning. I’ve been learning quickly and I’ve got great people around me. I think I’ve been very lucky and very blessed to be surrounded by the right guys. I’m sure I’ll win another race very soon.”
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